Pushing through triggers

Boo girl cheer up

I am working on pushing through the triggers, as my coach calls it, and I am getting pretty good at it with many of the small triggers. The name of the city where she lives, which is where they consummated their relationship, is a small trigger. At the beginning, it would make me cry just to hear or see the name and sometimes even sent me into a PTSD flashback. But I have built up some scar tissue around that one, and now the name brings back the memory for just a little bit, but like Mad Cow says, I can shrug it off. It is like that with many small triggers, and after a six-year affair with an old flame, there are small triggers everywhere.

The wounds from the big triggers, though, are much deeper and are not yet healed. The wounds keep reopening with the many stupid things my husband has said and done over the past two years. It is all slowly healing, but a series of triggers in a row can still set me back.

What’s a big trigger? I think it’s different for all of us, depending on the emotional attachment to the trigger. One of the biggest for me is “their” song: From This Moment On by Shania Twain. Prior to discovery of their emails, it was one of my favorite old songs. I sang it often. I even sang it on stage a few times back when it was a hit single – yes, back in the day I sang with a band. Lots of fun… and that song always made me think of Daniel and me. I remember the night when he told me that he knew from the moment he first kissed me that he would love me forever. He said that from that moment on, his heart was in my hands. So when that song came out and she sang “From this moment on” I thought it was a perfect reflection of him and me. Then I found their emails and I found the ones where they talked about him singing that song to her the first time they met after reconnecting… how it became their song… how they meant every word for each other… how they quoted from it frequently over the years in all those emails… it killed something inside me. I have not been able to push past it. It used to be guaranteed flashback time if I heard even the first few chords of the song… now it just makes me sad for a while… BIG trigger. At least I haven’t had a full-blown flashback in a while. That’s progress.

Mad Cow’s wife had an affair 20 years ago. He acknowledges that there are still triggers that come up here and there, but he is able to shrug them all off. I look forward to coming to the point where I can shrug off even the big triggers. Not there yet…

Mad Cow is trying to find a way, or maybe something to say, to help me move more quickly through this process. He wants to lighten the load for all of us betrayed spouses so that we don’t have to go through what he went through. He sees it from the other side and he wants to tell us that there is another way to see things. But I don’t know that there is a shortcut to that point. I think we just have to go through it as part of the grieving process. But I am open to suggestion, and I will thoughtfully ponder any advice MC comes up with. I am currently trying to think through what he said about not looking for reassurance, and focusing instead on getting Daniel to talk. It’s one thing to understand it rationally, and another thing to evict those fears from your heart.

Having someone supporting us along the way, though, means so much. Thank you, MC, for being here with us.


Is it an emotional affair?

Cathmae suggested a post on the definition of emotional affairs.  She and her ex-husband did not agree on the definition.  Others here have said that their spouses took some time to accept that they had cheated.  The definition has gone through a number of revisions over the last few years.  It can be like a whole other can of worms, especially in this day and age of social media and email.

The most recent definition I’ve seen says that cheating is anything you would not say or do in front of your spouse.  There are always exceptions to every rule – who’s to say that your spouse is not some manic, insanely insecure and jealous type?  But that is not usually the case.  And sometimes the relationship starts off as a friendship and somewhere along the way crosses the line.  The line is sometimes a little fuzzy.

The very first time my husband wrote to his affair partner, he knew full well that he was already crossing the line.  He pursued her after getting her contact info from their alumni organization.  She had been his first girlfriend, his high school sweetheart, and he wrote right at the outset that he regretted the decisions he made when they broke up, that his wife (me) was very jealous of her right up to that day, and that there was so much more that he wished he could say.  Of course, he didn’t want me to see that letter, and it was most definitely crossing the line, and I classified that as cheating right from the get go.  He didn’t touch her – he didn’t even see her until the following year because she lives so far away.  He didn’t say he still loved her until the second letter.  But that first letter most definitely crossed the line.  He knew what he was doing.

It was the start of an emotional affair that went physical a year later.  Throughout their six-year affair, it was largely emotional because they lived too far apart to see each other often.  In fact, from what I know, they saw each other only a few times, with one five-day stay at a hotel during one of his business trips.

One of my favorite books on infidelity is Not Just Friends by Shirley Glass.  She says there are three signs that a person has crossed the line towards an inappropriate relationship with someone.

  • Close friendship and emotional intimacy. An emotional affair often begins as friendship and slowly builds into something more. While friendship alone isn’t enough to qualify as cheating, a feeling of shared closeness and understanding is the starting point for an emotional affair.
  It often seen in the sharing of personal problems and frustrations, and statements like, “He understands me like no one else can.”
  • Sexual Attraction. An emotional affair is fueled by feelings of attraction between two people.  
 It does not need to be consummated for a bond to form around the attraction.  In fact, people in an emotional affair sometimes do not touch at all.  But they look forward to seeing that special person just a little too much, and share just a little too much, and they feel a bond with that person.
  • Secrecy. Here’s where friendship and attraction cross the line into emotional cheating. In an emotional affair, each person stops sharing certain aspects of the friendship with his or her partner, and starts confiding more in the “friend” and less in his or her partner.  If you can’t act that way or say those things in front of your partner, you are crossing or have crossed into an EA.

It’s much too easy to do in our society today.  On the job, we spend long hours with people working towards shared goals.  At our children’s activities, we spend time with people who have similar interests and goals.  At church, we spend time in groups with people who share personal stories a lot.  These activities foster that feeling of shared closeness.  We have to be aware and prepared.

My husband had all three criteria from Day 1 because she was his high school sweetheart.  How was it for you or your partner/spouse?

Time heals… or does it?


I always say that pain and depression due to infidelity cannot be swept under the rug.  It must be dealt with or it will fester and grow like a cancer.  Now we have a new friend here whose husband had an affair 28 years ago.  It was never dealt with and now, after suffering through painful triggers, she is traumatized all over again.  I have copied her comments here, along with Teresa’s reply to her.  It’s kind of long, but it will give you the idea of what’s going on with her.

She’s asking for our advice on how to deal with her situation.  What do you think?


To DJ and all who have responded here.

How do you push away thoughts of your husbands, supposedly EA that happened 28 yrs. ago and have all come back full force? I’ve been dealing with it for a year now and they are getting worse as I’ve confronted him with the questions of his 3 yrs. A that I never got answers to. He feels that we should just move on, I should not be thinking about it, even though he has treated me not very nice the past 4 yrs., with the last one being the worse, due to my bringing up the past and he feels that I shouldn’t be. I want the truth of those 3 yrs. and I know that I don’t have it and I keep going over all the details in my head, trying to put the pieces together and they don’t add up. I am going to have him take another polygraph test as he failed the first two 25 yrs. ago and the examiner wasn’t the best one around. I will find the best this time and if he refuses to do it then I’m out of here. He swears they didn’t have sex, but yet he went off on two weekends with her in that 3 yr. period. We had never been with anyone else, got married at 18 and he says that would have been crossing the line for him. I say sleeping in bed with her was more than I could handle and I don’t believe him. I’m tired of living with not knowing the truth, him not telling me how deep his feelings were for her and his constant comment of not remembering things. We’ve been married 51 yrs. and this past yr. has been hell. I can’t get her or what he did by betraying me off my mind. I don’t know if I love him anymore and sometimes can’t even stand the sight of him. I loved him so much and never dreamed that he would ever cheat on me. I thought, like our friends, that we had a wonderful marriage, even though he drank too much at social events. That’s how it started with her also and she worked at his office. Anyway, point being, he says that I am obsessing, my 2 daughter’s say the same thing and I don’t agree, plus it’s none of their business, but he brought them into the picture. So, now I’m being accused of breaking up the family if we separate and that’s a good possibility. I just don’t want to do it before Christmas due to the 3 grandchildren coming home. But things are so bad at home and I still haven’t found the right counselor. Please, any advice would be so welcome.


  • Teresa says:

    Maxine6…..you can’t push away the thoughts….plain and simple! My H had an EA that started back in Sept. 2010 and lasted until I found out on Jan. 1, 2011….and on top of that, while stationed overseas 25 yrs ago, he had an EA then too!

    I brushed that one aside, since EA’s had no name back then, and the OW was just a name to me, since it happened thousands of miles a way…..well, I GUESS you can say I brushed it aside, if  you don’t count the panic attacks and depression that I went through, 1 1/2 yrs after I found out! I ended up being put on meds for the panic attacks, having a lot of not so fun tests done, because I had such extreme “symptons” I was experiencing…and I ended up seeing a counselor for a few months…I don’t remember what we talked about, but I do know my H’s affair did come up…but instead of the counselor dealing with HIM and why he did this,  the focus was on me, and why I was depressed! Looking back now, I think to myself, “Well, DUH, your H had a EA, possibly a PA” no WONDER I was depressed!! My H swears it wasn’t a PA, but he WAS thousands of miles from home, no accountability….has admitted holding her hand and a chaste kiss on the cheek a couple of times….righhhtttt!!! Would you believe that? So anyway, I wrote all that because when his current EA came to light, not only did I have to deal with THAT, I had to go back 25 yrs and delve into THAT EA because it was all buried under the rug, I really had NO clear answers…I was a mess for quite awhile while trying to get answers out of him! My H couldn’t remember details, and I wanted details, baby!! Led to quite a few arguments, let me tell you!! It’s so sad that these husbands of ours think they can have their “fun” and then when they get caught, can just say “Im sorry”….and then walk away like nothing happened and get back on with life!! Do they REALLY have such little respect for us??

    • maxine6 says:

      Teresa, I feel for you, none of it’s fair and mine would not have come back 3 yrs. ago if he hadn’t started treating me differently all of a sudden. I know a lot of things contributed to it, stock market, daughter owing us $10,000 and not paying it back which really made him mad. Drinking 3 glass’s of wine every night and anger issues over everything, including my back going out and having issues when we did travel. He had no patience with anything and then wasn’t loving me but about every 3 months. I felt unloved, neglected, he was taking a shower to work out, so my mind went back to the 1st. Affair, now that I knew the symptoms. I copied phone numbers, etc. He wasn’t having one, but I sure didn’t feel any better when he was treating me so badly. Then it all came back to me and I questioned why did I stay married to him for another 25 yrs. only to have a husband like this. I so wished that I had divorced him after the A when I was only 40, not at the age I am now, which is 69, YUK! I don’t like my life, like you, it’s all come back and I feel the same way that you do, he’s not telling me the truth and I can’t let it go and I don’t care if it’s 25 yrs. ago. He’s fed up with the questions he never answered years ago and I’m angry that he won’t be honest and just tell me what happened those 3 yrs.

      I like you suffered from severe panic attacks and am having them really bad again. Back then, they had to put me in a research program to try and figure out how to stop them. I had never had them before, but the stress was more than I could bear. I also had a stage 3 Melanoma surgery 6 weeks after finding out about the affair and a total hysterectomy 18 months later, due to stress. Our daughter at 16 left home and moved in with her boyfriend due to the tension in our home, which I had just designed, custom-built and was only there for 2 months when I found out about the affair from the OW husband. Such a sad time after all the work I had done and it was our dream home, but it turned out to be a “haunted house of nightmares!”  The same daughter got married young, got pregnant, divorced in one year and never went to college like her siblings until she was in her late 30′s. She’s now 40 and has had a difficult life and it has a lot to do with what her Dad did, but yet, he never takes any responsibility for it.

      We moved, I designed another house and have been in it almost 20 yrs. and now the last 4 have been hell. Life shouldn’t be like this for either one of us. My counselor also should have focused more on him, but he wasn’t cooperating with her either. Those questions were never answered or pursued until he would give up and come up with some kind of reason. So now he’s mad that he’s having to deal with all this 25 yrs. later, to bad, he should have addressed it back then.

      Not sure how all this is going to end. I just know that it won’t get out of my head and I hate going on more medication to accomplish that. I take Klonopin and Wellbutrin now to help me, but it’s not working. I hope that you find some kind of peace, we both deserve it.


Pushing away dark thoughts

I mentioned in my last post that I am learning to live life again by  my pain through pushing dark thoughts away.  I realized after some time that the only way I was ever going to feel better was by taking charge of my mind.  Pushing dark thoughts away takes some practice – over two years of practice in my case.  I am still working on it, but I’m getting better.  Our blogging friend NM needs some methods to try out in pushing away her dark thoughts.  Do you have any that you are using?

My method comes from two of the therapists I have seen, as well as my marriage coach James.  They all said the same thing about pushing dark thoughts away.  Inside of your head, scream into your mind, “STOP!”  The first few times I did it, the effect only lasted a few seconds, and the thoughts didn’t really go away.  They just sort stayed behind a line that was a few feet away from me in my mind, and then pounced right back on me after those few seconds.  But the therapists all said to keep doing it until it starts to make an impact.  So I did, and it started to work.  It’s still not a complete cure, but it does help to keep dark thoughts at bay for a while so that I can enjoy things again.  As I said in my post, it now feels like they go behind a door.  Sometimes they pound on the door and I have to “yell” at them again, but I can do it for periods of time, as long as I’m busy with people and I am determined not to let those dark thoughts ruin my day.  When I’m alone, it’s still very difficult unless I’m doing something physical, like a rigorous workout or Tai Chi.

It’s all a mind game to me.  At the beginning, I totally and absolutely hated the very idea that I had to play mind games in my own head in order to live my life after infidelity.  I have always strived to live a clean and simple life so that I would never have to deal with this sort of thing.   I did not choose this path.  I did nothing to cause it except to trust in the one person who should have had my back.  I was bitter and resentful about the whole thing.

But then I realized that things were not going to change unless I changed them.  And the only way that I could start the change was to play those games in my head.  So I did.  I suppose there will come a point when I don’t need them anymore.  As I have slowly opened myself up to God again, I see that meditating on Him is the very best medicine.  That’s me personally and my faith.

Meditation with movement or chanting keeps the mind occupied and free from clutter and pain.  Chanting, running, cardio workouts… they all work.  Whatever kind of meditation you choose, I do believe very much in it.

I came across a YouTube video of a Buddhist monk levitating.  It looked legit.  My Asian husband has seen it himself.  Powerful stuff, that meditation.

Tai Chi has become my favorite form of meditation.  Once you know the steps of the routine well, you can focus on your breathing.  That’s when I go into “the zone” and free my spirit of everything as I focus on perfection of form and breath as God breathes the force of life in and through me – chi.  Too esoteric?  Maybe.  But for me, it works.  Do you do any of my methods?  Do you do anything different?  Have you heard about anything different?  I’d like to hear about anything and everything that might make a difference for us betrayed spouses in our recovery.

To medicate or not to medicate

Shortly after D-day, I went to the doctor.  My vitals were so out of whack that she asked me if something had happened to me.  So I told her briefly that I had just found out that my husband had been having an affair.  She was wonderful in her response and put me at ease.  She asked me if I needed medication to sleep or to help with depression.  I just automatically said no.  I tend to be very sensitive to medications and I don’t take anything unless I absolutely have to.

Coach James, though, says that A LOT of people take various drugs for depression and sleep when they are in recovery after an affair.  So I’m wondering… do you take stuff?  What do you take?  Does it help?

Even though I have developed fibromyalgia, I still don’t take anything besides a pain reliever and Sudafed.  Sudafed is the oddest thing for me.  Since I am so sensitive to medications, Sudafed – pseudoephedrine – is also strong for me.  It acts like a stimulant.  It takes away a lot of my physical pain from the fibro so I can still do martial arts and fitness classes.  I have to do a long extended and gradual period of warm-ups that other people don’t, but after that, I’m ready to go and have only lost a little bit of my mobility.   I only take it for my weekend classes, which are the most rigorous.  Otherwise, I will build up a resistance and have to take more and more – like a drug addict.

The stimulant effect also helps me to get things done.  I only take it once in the morning, but it keeps me pumped for much of the day.  During the week when I don’t take it, I sometimes have difficulty focusing on getting things done and I am much more depressed.  Hmmm… so I guess I am medicating, but only on weekends, and only with non-prescription stuff.

How about you?

Sex after betrayal

Many thanks again for the interesting comments everyone has shared with Liberty.   It’s been a fascinating couple of days!

Another reader, NMWF1,  is struggling with sex since finding out about her husband’s EA.  He had phone sex with her so in my definition that is beyond an emotional affair, but recently she found evidence to suggest that they actually did meet once, and she is in turmoil.  She wants to hear everyone’s opinions and experiences on the subject of SEX AFTER AN AFFAIR.  Here is her question:

Dj, a few weeks ago I wondered about  how everyone copes with the issue of sex , I said that I realize that the number one issue in the pain department is the emotional part of an affair, we all know, it is what kills the soul , however coping with visions of a  H in the arms of OW is pretty sickening to say the least, I want to know how anyone gets past that part. I sill don’t know the truth about whether or not the OW came here and met up with my H physically, but my mind is reeking havoc with me. So I want to know others thoughts about, how they cope with that aspect.  How do they get past that?  Hope all of you have a good day!  I know it’s just another sore spot to talk about. But I really want others thoughts.

I am one of those hysterical bonders, so I have positive and negative things to say on the subject.  I’ll comment along with everyone else.

Should she contact the Other Woman?

Many thanks to those who commented on Liberty’s situation.  It has been good on so many levels.  I have been reminded of some of the truths of dealing with infidelity.  I have learned some new things, too.  I have felt a sense of community and belonging that makes me feel that I am not so alone.  It means so much.

Liberty would like to ask another question, so I’m going with it another time.  Should she contact the OW?  Boy, if that is ever a big question… here is what she wrote:


Hi everyone, I am glad that I am not alone and I’m sorry I am not alone! Because then no one would be unhappy.   Let me ask another question of everyone ( hope it’s alright DJ)   I am wondering what you all think of contacting the OW?  Not to bitch at her or be mean but to see about finding out the story?  Do you think they are honest in these situations?  I have not done anything yet, not sure I even would but just wanted to throw it out and see if anyone has done it.

I am taking everyone’s advice to heart and trying not to be so down on myself.

I just struggle with wanting to ask my H the same questions over and over again, he’s answered them already, I don’t know what I am looking for?  But, that’s the times I need someone to talk to but I have not told anyone about this so I have no one to tell me stop doing that! 

Thanks!  Liberty